“An easy popular trail to an old Mica Mine, then an intermediate trail to a quiet canyon.
— Janice Shepherd
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Dogs must be under voice command if allowed off leash.
From the Bangs Canyon Trailhead, go through the gap in the fencing to the right of the information kiosks. Drop downhill and through a narrow gap in the sandstone walls. Some hikers might need assistance with the rock ledge drops in this narrow section. At the T-intersection turn right then follow the trail as it enters a wonderful cottonwood-lined canyon. The cottonwoods keep sections of this trail cool and at times there will be water in the creek that also adds a pleasant natural feel to the area.
The trail follows the wash either in the wash or on the sandy bench. Take the time to enjoy the red cliff walls that line this pretty canyon. You'll soon come to some outcrops of white quartz. Quite the contrast from the surrounding sandstone.
Many visitors only hike as far as the old Mica Mine which is located 1.3 miles from the trailhead. This is a historic mica and quartz mine. Mica is used for things such as high-temperature insulation and oven windows. There are often lots of families with small children along this stretch of the trail so keeping your dogs leashed is the best practice.
Continue past the mine for a short distance until you reach the waterfall area. Now look to the right of the waterfall for the switchbacked trail leading up to the higher section of Ladder Canyon. Take your time in this section as it is easy to miss a turn in the trail. You may need to use handholds in the rock to maneuver through this tougher section. Boots with good traction are a must.
Once you gained the higher canyon floor, the trail again becomes an easy hiking trail. This is a very quiet section of Ladder Canyon, making it a perfect spot to watch for wildlife. Sometimes the signs of wildlife might just be a wild cat footprint in the sand or snow, so watch for those too.
Continue along the trail until you reach a split in the canyon. Public land continues for only a short distance beyond this spot, but to avoid inadvertently trespassing, it's best to turn around and head back the way you came. You'll see an old wooden fence which shows the area was once used for grazing. That may leave you wondering how they got the livestock down into this steep-walled canyon.
Flora & Fauna
Lots of blooming cactus in the spring, nice fall colors in October and in winter the possibility of finding wild cat (probably bobcat) footprints in the snow make this an area of year-round delight.